Dec. 22, 1959 - May 12, 2020
Born December 22, 1959, in Walnut Creek, California, firstborn son of Rodney and Sandra Smith he passed away May 12, 2020. Raised in John Day, Oregon, alongside his brothers Tim and Monty. His parents and brothers say his youth was filled with fishing, camping, and swimming in the creek. His mother recalls that “He grew up outdoors” and “just enjoyed life.” He especially loved music, and played trumpet and guitar. He enjoyed socializing through DeMolay and scouting and of course he loved riding his motorcycle!
After high school, his mother Sandra says that “he wanted something bigger; he wanted to find himself.” This urge led him to join the U.S. Navy as a young man, only to discover he was prone to seasickness. Fortunately he learned that his seasickness wasn’t an issue in a submerged submarine, and he served 12 years, both operating the nuclear reactor on a naval submarine and later instructing at the Naval Nuclear Power School. He told many wild stories about his time at sea. His work in the Navy prepared him for a later transition to civilian life where he worked for 30 years as a project manager specializing in nuclear power and world-class spreadsheets. Colleagues and friends describe him as a man of integrity, empathy, and honor. His good friend Chris Warren says “Cory was transparent. He never had an agenda.” Cory was a confidante and saw each person as an individual with unique perspective. Chris shares that Cory always had a listening ear and will be remembered for the comfort he provided, “Talking to understand, not to judge you.”
When stationed in Orlando, Florida, Cory met a striking 19-year-old redhead named Teresa Emens. Their courtship continued when she went to college in Idaho, and he was stationed in Idaho Falls. They married in 1981 and together they had two sons, Jared, born in Idaho, and Ryan, born in South Carolina. Teresa was a supportive and dedicated wife. Teresa’s mother, Judy Emens, recalls that she was always proud of his high standards. “He could never accept anything less than a 4.0 eval.” Cory and Teresa moved 25 times in the course of their marriage.
Corys’ travels, both in and out of the military, took him around the country and the world but always back home to his loving family. In 1990, he left the Navy for civilian life. Judy Emens says this choice was prompted by a need to be more present for Teresa as she endured surgery and poor health. His sons add that he wished to be better known by them. He shared his love of cars with both his boys as well as playing sports, such as racquetball. His son Ryan recalls, “Once we got on a plane just to go to Chicago and watch Top Fuel drag races because they don’t have Top Fuel In Florida.” Ryan also takes credit for inspiring Cory’s lifelong love affair with the Dodge Challenger (he owned an RT, an SRT, and eventually a purple Hellcat he named “Vivian”).
After losing his beloved Teresa in 2015, he found love again with his cherished second wife, Michelle John. In their time together, they were dedicated missionaries for their church, where they were assigned to counsel and support those struggling with addiction. Cory found great meaning in this work and encouraged others to find peace in their faith as they began a new life. Michelle and Cory began a new adventure in 2018 as they moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, they made many faithful friends and Cory had the opportunity to serve as a leader and counselor to the teenage boys in their congregation. Bishop Matthew Squires, leader of their congregation, described Cory’s service, “Cory was an example of faith, diligence, and calm strength to the 16 -18 year old young men. He was an example, leader, teacher of faith, and true friend to the next generation.”
Cory passed away Tuesday, May 12, 2020, after a long battle with cancer. He died in his home, surrounded by loved ones. He is survived by his loving wife, Michelle; his parents, Rodney and Sandra Smith; his two brothers; his sons and stepchildren; and his five beautiful grandchildren. We mourn his absence and rejoice in the life he lived.
A Graveside Service was held on May 17th at Canyon City Cemetery in Canyon City, Oregon. Due to the COVID-19 virus, a celebration of life will take place at a later time.
Paid for by the family of Cory Smith.